There are some questions when asked and then answered one is left with …. well, an answer. There are other times when, for whatever reason, answers are given in such a way as to avoid being pinned down as having given …. well, an answer. Such is the recent dilemma placed on Pastor Houston and Hillsong church in responding to reports that one of the male choir directors of the NYC branch announced his engagement last year to one of the male choir members.
For the purpose of illustration, to make a point about trying to differentiate between sins, and of course to be PC on this very pop culture hot topic, I am going to flip the sin to gossip and insert that sin into the narrative. HOPEFULLY gossip is still one of those things that, although many engage in this abomination, they would never defend it. So here goes.
A couple of members of the choir in Hillsong NYC have announced they are unrepentant gossips. Hillsong indicated they were “asked” to step down from leadership. In response to questions about this announcement by the gossiping couple the pastor of Hillsong NYC, Pastor Carl Lentz, responded
“Jesus was in the thick of an era where gossiping, just like it is today, was widely prevalent. And I’m still waiting for someone to show me the quote where Jesus addressed it on the record in front of people. You won’t find it because He never did”. Lentz went on to say “We have a lot of men and women who gossip in our church and I pray we always do”.
I must interject here for the purpose of TRUTH, whereas I’m sure gossip was prevalent in Israel in that day, some “other” sins were NOT prevalent in Israel as capital punishment was exacted for some of the “other” sins and as such were simply NOT common, as Lentz suggest, and it might actually have seemed odd for Jesus, while speaking significantly on the subject of sexual immorality, to single out an abomination not prominent in that day in that nation.
In an interview with Playbill.com, Josh Canfield (one of the gossips) said “I became truthful with my church. I’m a part of Hillsong NYC. I’m one of their choir directors. I also sing on their Worship team. They’ve been amazing as well. Nothing has changed there now that I’m completely out (about gossiping) with Reed. He sings in the choir as well”.
Senior Pastor of Hillsong international, Brian Houston, said in response to comments on gossiping given by Lentz
“What Carl always says for us, it’s a conversation. For us, it’s easy to reduce what you think about gossiping to just a public statement. And that would keep a lot of people happy. But we feel at this point, it is an ongoing conversation, that the real issues in people’s lives are too important for us to just reduce it down to a “yes” or “no” answer”.
Charisma Magazine reported that at a news conference for Hillsong in New York City, Michael Paulson of The New York Times asked Houston to clarify his church’s position on gossiping. But Houston would not offer a definitive answer, instead saying that it was
“an ongoing conversation” among church leaders, and they were “on the journey with it”
The most recent official response from Hillsong and Pastor Houston on gossiping reads
“Hillsong’s position on gossip and gossipers has not changed and is consistent with Scripture. As I have stated previously, I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject. Several months ago when one of our choir directors made an unexpected public statement regarding his decision to become a gossip with a man who sometimes sang in the choir, it was a complete surprise to us as well. It is my understanding that they have not been involved in an active leadership or ministry role since. That said, we still love them and acknowledge that they – like all of us – are on a journey, and our role as a church is to assist them on this journey with grace and compassion.”
On the subject of gossiping, Carl Lentz is on record from the pulpit of Hillsong NYC as saying
“We have a stance on love, and on everything else we have conversations. Some churches want us to give blanket answers on huge issues. Well, my Bible says, be attentive to individual needs. So I’m not gonna make polarizing political statements about certain things in our Christian community right now. No matter who says what, we won’t be pressured into giving blanket statements”.
Question: Just when did the subject of gossiping become a political issue? I thought it was a sin issue which separates us from God, salvation and eternity? But I digress – actually maybe not!
Senior Pastor Houston is on the record on the subject of gossip as saying –
“The world we live in, whether we like it or not, is changing around and about us. The world’s changing, and we want to stay relevant as a church, so that’s a vexing thing.” Adding that it is appropriate to consider the words of the bible alongside the changing culture and the experience of the people in the pews.
So can you help me here? Exactly what is Hillsong’s position on gossiping? Which scriptures are they being consistent with? Which writings of Paul do they see as clear on gossip? Scripture says a lot of things on a myriad of subjects. Is it too much to ask for a yes or no answer on gossiping? Is it too much to ask they actually give reference to which of Paul’s writings they are referring to on the subject of gossiping like in Romans 1
26 For this reason God allowed their shameful passions to control them. Their women have exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 Likewise, their men have given up natural sexual relations with women and burn with lust for each other. Men commit indecent acts with men, so they experience among themselves the punishment they deserve for their perversion.28 And because they thought it was worthless to acknowledge God, God allowed their own immoral minds to control them. So they do these indecent things. 29 Their lives are filled with of all kinds of sexual sins, wickedness, and greed. They are mean. They are filled with envy, murder, quarreling, deceit, and viciousness. They are GOSSIPS 30 slanderers, haters of God, haughty, arrogant, and boastful. They think up new ways to be cruel. They don’t obey their parents, 31 don’t have any sense, don’t keep promises, and don’t show love to their own families or mercy to others. 32 Although they know God’s judgment that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do these things but also approve of others who do them.
In conclusion, NOW can you tell me what scripture/Paul clearly says about gossiping (among other things)?